Monday, December 30, 2013

Inside Look of Training While Deployed

27 December-

A few people have asked what my training would consist of while I was on this deployment.  I have nick named it "Deployment Elevation Camp", since we are sitting around 4,800ft at Bagram Air Base.  I am sitting in a "valley" surrounded by mountains with the highest peaks at 16,000ft.  I am out here on what would be considered very short by 99% of the military, only 6 weeks.  I will add to this blog as the trip goes on and hopefully be able to tell an interesting story of what life is like out here.  Although it seems to be pretty repetitive and very much of the same routine from day to day.

Throughout this blog there may be times where it sounds like I am complaining, but trust me I know it could be a lot worse.  I know many of my brothers and sisters in other locations do not have near as good as I do.  When people from other branches try to rag on us Air Force people for having life so good, I always remind them that we all volunteered our service to our country and we decided what dotted line to sign on.  But I do respect each person's decision and understand that it takes all of our branches to create the worlds most powerful military, our US Military.


 Click Pictures to Enlarge
I typically work 72 hours a week with one off day.  Work is only 1/2 mile away from my dorm room, so not bad at all.  I typically get 6-9 hours of sleep depending how long my evening workout is.  My coach and I have come up with some standard "rules" for what I can do while here.  I give him about 1-1h30m to work with in the morning and about the same after work.  Occasionally I can workout while on shift, but that is for only 1 hour max.

Laundry is on a 72 hour turn around, but normally comes back in 48 hours.  You have to turn it in, no more than 25 items at once, they haul it off base, do your laundry, sometimes fold it, sometimes you get it all back, sometimes you get other people's random stuff, but most of the time you get all of your stuff back.  I have access to a hot shower and running water (which is not potable) everyday and usually shower two times a day.

For those of you that have been following along on FB and Twitter you noticed some of the early photos from the trip.  The photo below is the sarcastic photo after I was informed that I could not ride in just bibs and an undershirt.  You have to workout in Physical Training Uniform when working out, and if you are not working out you must be in uniform.  The PT uniform was not made for endurance athletes.  After only 2 days of running in it I was chaffed pretty bad.  Luckily I brought a few pairs of regular running shorts and decided to wear those underneath.  For cycling I have been wearing Bibs and an undershirt and then my PT gear over that.

This is how I ride, minus the helmet and flak vest, that was the sarcastic part.

I have access to the chow hall and they serve 4 meals a day, although I typically only make 2 trips up there.  It is located close to my dorm room which is nice, but still a mile round trip to get lunch during work. I typically stop there for breakfast on the way to work and then at lunch I get two meals.  I have laid out a typical meal below for each meal.

Nutrition has always been one area that I have not put 100% focus into.  I don't count calories and I don't watch my weight until March or April.  Since it is off season I haven't stepped on a scale since I have been over here and don't plan on stepping on one till I get back.  I left weighing 168lbs.  I weighed 166lbs for Kona and IMFL, but most of the year I was down around 160-162lbs.  After IMFL I was up to as high as 174lbs and then once I started training again the weight came of fairly fast.

Meal 1- Eggs, bacon, fruit, juice and sometimes yogurt. (After morning workouts I ensure I get a hot meal)
Meal 2- Cereal, fruit, juice. (if I get up late I have some extra items stored at work).

I will typically get food off of the hotline.  It typically consist of some sort of meat, vegetables, some sort of small side salad, fruit, electrolyte drink or juice.  I will occasionally have a soda and/or cake :)

I will normally get this meal at lunch and eat it after my workout or 2 hours before my evening workout.  I get a salad with chicken or just plain salad with all different vegetables.  I will also get some fruit and try to get chocolate milk.

If I do not have an evening workout I will go and get a hot meal which is similar to the lunch selection.

Training Environment / Equipment-
I was able to travel over here with my Cervelo P3 and my CycleOps Magneto Trainer.  I had my bike in the Vaughn Hockey Goal Keepers Bag and my trainer was in my "C-Bag" (green duffel bag) with all of my clothing.  I also had clothing, shoes, nutrition items in the hockey bag with the bike.  The only damage the bike received due to the trip was a broken spoke on the front wheel, luckily the bike is only on the trainer so no problem.  I would like to think the bag was not handled as nicely as it would have been on a typical flight and that was the reason for the damage.

I do not plan to ride outside, although if I had a cross bike or MTB it would be possible.  I have my trainer setup downstairs of work with a nice big fan and I set my laptop up beside me and watch movies.  Not all that bad.  Beside that is a treadmill that I tend to use if I do not feel comfortable running outside due to the random "fire works" that we get here.  When I feel comfortable running outside I stick to two "loops" that are next to my dorm.  One of the loops is .8mi and the second loop includes part of that loop and is 1.2 miles.

All in all I am happy with the setup I have here and it will suffice for the short time that I am here.

Trainer Setup

Living Quarters-
I have a room that I share with 4 other people.  I have 2 wall lockers to store my items in, but most of my workout stuff stays here at work in the hockey bag.  I use the comforter that my bike was wrapped in to block out the light and keep the bunk a little easier to sleep in.  It tends to get a little cold at night so I have an electric blanket that I usually turn on half way through the night.

I am still working on my degree while I am deployed.  I am enrolled in two online classes through Embry Riddle, Aviation Safety Program Management and Aircraft Accident Investigation.  Their courses are 9 weeks long and I have about 4 weeks left.  Once these two are completed I will have four more classes left until I finish my degree in Aeronautics through Embry Riddle. 

Week 1-
I started the trip across the pond on Tuesday evening from Ft Worth.  We were suppose to leave a few days earlier but the "2013 DFW Ice Storm" postponed the trip.  It took 68 hours from start to finish, with quite the layover in Kyrgyzstan.  Due to the travel I had a few off days, but was still happy with the amount of training I got in.  I was able to run in 3 different countries and felt pretty good the first few days at 4.8K feet.  The only effects of the elevation that I felt was when I would run around threshold, other than that everything was fine.

Training Totals-
Bike- ZERO
Run- 42 miles / 5h20m
Total- 5h20m / 415TSS
Training Off Days- 3

 A little Xmas Spirit in Kyrgyzstan
 Military Transport, looks great from here.....
Not so much from here.....Think twice before you complain about leg room again :)

Week 2-
After getting settled in here in Afghanistan I started to get into a good routine.  I was able to get the bike setup.  I was able to get away by doing my first ride in just bibs and an undershirt, but by the time I was done I was informed I needed to have PT gear on over my cycling gear.  Towards the end of the week I was unfortunate enough to experience my first "fireworks" show, not first hand but none the less fireworks went off.  I decided to skip my evening run and just went to bed.

Training Totals-
Bike- 83 miles / 4h37m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 50 miles / 6h7m
Total- 10h45m / 677TSS
Training Off Days- ZERO

View from my new "home", if only we could ride the roads in these great mountains.
Week 3-
A week that included Christmas, but honestly it just felt like another week.  A friend from the US Military Cycling Team came over from the other side of base and we enjoyed a 2 hour trainer ride on Christmas Eve.  There was suppose to be a 5K on Christmas day but it was moved to Saturday.  I was looking forward to running a 5K to see how I was coming along in terms of fitness.  Unfortunately it ended up not being a "real" 5K and it included eating 2 HOHO's during the run.  The course was a bow tie, run out one way, eat a HOHO, turn around run past the start down to the other end and eat another HOHO, then run back to the start to finish the 5K.  I still ended up running a decent time, 18:20, so wasn't to disappointed.  Hoping there is another 5K before I leave here that is just a normal race so I can see how my running is coming along.

Sunday we had the first snow of the winter and it brought a few inches.  And I missed a day of training due to "fireworks", no worries Week 4 has plenty of running on the schedule :)  I haven't started counting down the days yet, as I think it will just make the days drag on.  I am much just taking it day by day and trying to continue on with the training.  Luckily Slowtwitch has a training challenge going on right, 100 runs in 100 days, so that is keeping me motivated.  I am also looking at racing the Cowtown Half Marathon when I return so that is motivation as well.

Training Totals-
Bike- 81 miles / 4h30m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 33.5 miles / 4h57m
Total- 9h27m / 574 TSS
Training Off Days-1 (Due to "Fireworks")

 Not a bad view to wake up to in the morning
First Snow and of course a snowman was made, US Flag and all!
Trainer session with Trevor, and yes the deployment 'staches are in full swing

Week 4-

Well week 4 has come and gone and I got a little behind on the blog.  I had two big papers for school this week so in my "spare" time I was working on those and couldn't get to the blog.  Looking back at week 4 it was just another week here in Afghanistan.  Got in a decent amount of training and was happy with how the week went till Sunday night.  I got home and wasn't quite motivated to run.

I ended up getting dressed and heading outside and turned on the Garmin.  I had what I consider a complicated interval set, it is a set I see every 10-12 days on the schedule so I have the workout programmed in the watch.  It has so many "steps" it is broken into 2 different workouts on the Garmin, and for some reason only part 1 was on the Garmin.  I was frustrated with that and then thought I would just go ahead and run it and just do the intervals manually.  Then I got frustrated and started playing mind games with myself.

We are out here getting hit with "fireworks" periodically, and you start playing mind games with yourself.  Maybe it was a sign I didn't need to run? Screw I went inside and figured I would catch up on sleep and get ready for Week 5 which was going to include a big run week.  I go inside and go to get my iPhone out of my pants pocket and end up dropping it and cracking the screen.  Back to the mind games, now I am pissed because if I would have run I wouldn't have dropped the phone.  Uhhh......Just couldn't win on Sunday night.

Not quite to the point of counting down the days yet, but they are ticking away.  I am starting to feel pretty fit.  Getting pretty lean and both my wife and coach have commented about how "skinny" my face is getting and they were telling me I need to eat more.  So, that only means one thing, I still need to loose about 5 pounds till I am at race weight ;)

Training Totals-
Bike- 72 miles / 4h (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 49 miles / 6h15m
Total- 10h14m / 639 TSS
Training Off Days- 1

Week 5-

Got a little behind on this, so figured I should get caught back up.  Work is still work, so nothing new on that front.  Just counting down the days till back to the good ol US of A and getting a good amount of training in.  I ended up missing two bike workouts this week, but was able to get all of my run sets in which has been the main focus. Other than that life is as good as it can be for being in the middle of Afghanistan.

Training Totals-
Bike- 18 miles / 1h (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 75 miles / 9h33m
Total- 10h33m / 794 TSS
Training Off Days-0

Week 6-

Coming off of last weeks miles I was a bit tired.  I currently have Tuesdays off and use that to sleep in a bit.  I was excited for this week looking at the schedule knowing it would be another big week.  Last week 75 miles was an all time high for me in terms of mileage in a single week.  We have really been working my run since the lack of pool out here and ability to ride outside is non existent.  Surprisingly the numbers on the bike are not all that bad and I am happy with how those are holding up.  I am feeling really good running, considering I am at altitude.  I had a big mile repeat set this week and didn't hit the exact splits I wanted but still felt pretty strong.

I am looking forward to getting back to DFW and seeing where my fitness is.  I am targeting a half marathon, but that plan may get disrupted by a trip to Japan.  There is also the possibility of doing a 5K the day I get back, so we will see what happens.

Training Totals-
Bike- 66 miles / 3h40m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 80 miles / 10h11m
Total- 13h51m / 956 TSS
Training Off Days-0

 "Flying" the RWB Eagle all the way over in Afghanistan.
 Got the most out of this tire on the trainer.
 The full moon from behind the wire......
Week 7:

Seems like consistency is what people want out here and that is the one thing that we lack.  Everyday it is something new at work, no we aren't doing it that way anymore we are doing it this way.  Trying to get into a rhythm at work is next near to impossible because our fearless leader can't figure out which way is up and which way is down.  He can't remember how he wants things done so one day is one way and the next is another.  If I was just out here for a training camp, life wouldn't be all that bad, but that thing called work keeps getting in the way.

I had a pretty nice training area setup and this week leadership decided they needed an area all to themselves to "wind down" so no one is allowed in there anymore, besides leadership.  Mind you there are 2 working treadmills, an elliptical, spin bike, and a TV setup right infront of all of those machines.  I also had my bike setup here with a big fan.  It was great, right downstairs from work, nice and convenient.  Well throw all that out the window for roughly ~8 people to have a "wind down" area while 20+ others now have to go elsewhere.

That elsewhere includes 1 treadmill that only works up to 7mph and then the belt starts to slip under your feet.  The other place has 3 treadmills, 2 of which are broken, and that area is accessible to 400+ people.  Needless to say this week was a bit frustrating.  I was able to move my bike to a new location, but a treadmill does not exist here.  Luckily I am still able to ride without to much hassle.  Other than all of that the week wasn't too bad.  Got in a good amount of training and still feeling pretty good of where my fitness is.

Training Totals-
Bike- 54 miles / 3h (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 53.8 miles / 6h41m
Total- 9h41m / 665 TSS
Training Off Days-1

The new "dungeon"
Week 8:

The time is getting short here and I am excited to be heading back home soon.  Just taking it one day at a time and focusing on the tasks at hand.  I am actually pretty happy with how this week went, we adjusted the schedule towards the end of the week due to some "free time" this weekend.  I actually was able to venture out off the normal loop as I found some other runners out for a long run on Sunday.  It broke up the monotony of running in circles, but honestly there were too many vehicles and puddles in the road due to the non stop rain the last 2 days.

I had a solid trainer set mid week and was happy with the last 10mins where I did 20secs out of saddle and then 40secs in the saddle, ended up with an average of 295 watts for those 10mins and the HR was nice and low.  Interested to see where the power is when I get back to the states.  This was by far this biggest week I have had out here and am really happy with how the body is holding up after these big running weeks.

Training Totals-
Bike- 91.5 miles / 5h5m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 83.8 miles / 10h35m
Total- 15h40m / 1050 TSS
Training Off Days-0

Week 9-

Well the final days have finally come to an end out here in Afghanistan.  We got pushed backed  a day which meant one more day in Afghanistan rather than in Qatar.  We ended up departing a day late and then were in Qatar for a few days.  We ended up getting pushed back another day while in Qatar which did delay our final arrival home.

The weather in Qatar was great, clear skies, a slight wind and temps from the mid 70’s to high 80’s.  Couldn’t complain for just spending some time in Afghanistan and finally leaving that place.  Qatar even had an outdoor pool, unfortunately I didn’t have my swim stuff, but luckily I was able to borrow some goggles and get a few laps in.

I was able to get some solid running in while in Qatar and really enjoyed running outside in normal clothes and not the Air Force issued PT gear.  The food was open 24/7 here so that made it nice as well.  I really had nothing to complain about in Qatar other than being in a 40 man open bay barracks which started to stink by day 2 out of 6.  Not having to do anything other than drink the 3 beer a day limit and run made for a nice few days of relaxation.

The trip back home was pretty long with a few short stops.  I had a middle seat between two bigger guys, so that made it hard to sleep and not all that enjoyable.   Once arriving back home it was two quick days of in-processing and then I departed for Japan.

Training Totals-
Swim- 1000m / 25mins
Bike- 18 miles / 1h0m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 69.7 miles / 8h43m
Total- 10h5m / 728 TSS
Training Off Days-2

Overall I would say the deployment wasn’t all that bad.  The random “fireworks” and the political BS from our “leaders” made times frustrating.  But overall it wasn’t bad for the training and I left feeling like I had gained some fitness and being close to altitude would benefit later on down the road.  Of all the times to be deployed throughout the year I would say the timing of this trip worked out perfectly

Total Training While Deployed-
Swim- 1000m / 25mins
Bike- 568 miles / 31h22m (I am using 18mph as the metric to track "mileage" on the trainer)
Run- 575 miles / 73h45m
Total- 105h30m / 7824 TSS

Total Training Days Off- 8
Total Deployment from door to door: 63 days

 Weekly Run Miles
 Training Breakdown
 PMC Chart
CTL Start= 85
CTL Finish= 112

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